Hill Walking Cooley Peninsula

Hill Walking on the Carlingford Mountain Range, Cooley Peninsula © Liam McAuley

Carlingford and Cooley Mountains Hill Walking

Carlingford Mountain (Slieve Foye) and the Cooley Mountains

The Cooley Mountains, just an hour's drive from Dublin and Belfast are a great Hill Walking destination, consisting of two ridges oriented northwest to southeast, separated by the valley of Glenmore.

The landscape is one of unspoilt rolling countryside with beautiful seascapes and panoramas from the mountain tops in all directions. The views from the various summits include Carlingford Lough, the Mourne Mountains, Slieve Gullion and it's Ring Dyke Hills, Camlough Mountain and Lake, Dundalk Bay, the ancient plains of Muirthemne and on a good clear day the Isle of Man. It is little wonder that the area is considered by many to be one of the most scenic in Ireland and a magnet for Hill Walkers of all grades.

Link: In 2014, the Cooley Peninsula was named as one of the top 10 most beautiful places to visit in Ireland by The Huffington Post

Hill Walkers in the Cooley Mountains

Slieve Foye, the highest peak (588 metres) on the eastern ridge is the highest mountain in County Louth and provides shelter to the medieval town of Carlingford which is situated at it's base on the shores of Carlingford Lough. The ridge rises east of Omeath and runs in a southeasterly direction following the shoreline. The entire ridge is known as Carlingford Mountain and includes the Eagles Rock, the Foxes Rock, the Ravens Rock, Barnavave, known locally as Queen Maeve's Gap and Paddys Top.

The wastern ridge above Ravensdale which begins at Carrickcarnon includes Clermont, Black Mountain (highest point at Clermont Cairn 508 metres), Anglesea Mountain, Anneverna (All Ireland Poc Fada Course), Carnawaddy, Slievestucan, Slievenaglogh and Annaloughan gently sloping seaward at Lordship. 

Carlingford and Cooley Peninsula Looped Walks

The Cooley Mountains have walks catering for all experience levels with a series of 10 looped walks to suit all with basic to moderate fitness levels.

Link: Visit our Greenway and Looped Walks page for more information.

N.B. The National Looped Walks and The Táin Way will not take you above 400 metres.

The Táin Way

The Táin Way is a 40 km (26 mile) way marked walk and can be walked with ease over two days with a number of starting options. Walkers can begin and end in Ravensdale, Omeath, Carlingford or Ballymakellet (all on the route).

Tain Way Sign LoopBrief description of The Táin Way walking route beginning and ending in Carlngford.

The Táin Way itself rises out of the town to run as a forest track along the northern slopes of Carlingford Mountain, giving wonderful views of the Mournes, before dipping to sea level at the town of Omeath. It then rises steeply on narrow roads and tracks through open country to a pass by Clermont in the midst of the mountains. It then descends again to Ravensdale, where there are forest trails and accommodation. 

The second stage takes the walker high onto another spur of the Cooleys at Ballymakellett, with good views back along the Irish Sea coast, before descending into Glenmore, a long valley. The Way crosses the valley and climbs onto the southern ridge of Carlingford Mountain on an ancient grassy track. From there it is downhill all the way back into Carlingford.


Link: Accommodation can be found all along the route with many providers offering a set down/pick up service for walkers, please check with the accommodation providers locally.  

Hill Walking on the Cooley Mountains (experienced walkers and walking groups).

As there are no published walking guides available (other than those published in book form) that take in the peaks of the Cooley Mountains over 400 metres we have provided links to various online publications which have reviews of walks on Slieve Foy, Barnavave and the Cooley Mountains.

High Point Ireland - The Gribbon List: Slieve Foye, Co. Louth


Walking and Hiking Ireland - The County Tops: Slieve Foye, Co. Louth


Walk of the Week - Irish Independant: Barnavave, Cooley Peninsula


Walk of the Week - Irish Independant: Slieve Foye, Cooley Peninsula


Mountain Views (Hill Walkers Route Reviews for the Cooley Mountains).


Regular Social Hill Walking Groups and Clubs to the Cooley Mountains

The Cooley Mountains are very popular with walking groups and clubs and locally there are five walking clubs/groups who include the Cooley Peninsula in their calendars at least once a month. Visitors are always welcome to join them on their walks (normally there is a small fee to pay on the day). We have provided the links to their websites or social media pages below. Photo below right © Derek Watters

Hillwalking Cooley Mountains © Derek Watters
Lumpers Táin Trekkers


Outdoor Xchange Dundalk


The Wee Binnian Walkers


Gap o' the North Hill Walking Club


Kilbroney Ramblers Hill Walking Club


Walking Festivals on the Cooley Peninsula

There are three Walking Festivals held annually on the Cooley Peninsula.

The Táin Walking Festival

The Táin Walking Festival takes place on the first weekend in March with graded walks on the Cooley Mountains. The walks are diverse and all experience levels are catered for from beginners to advanced. Historical walking tours are also included taking place in Omeath and Carlingford for those who don't want to take to the hills. (Please note no event in 2017).

The Lumpers Walking Festival

On the May bank holiday weekend each year the Lumpers Walking Festival takes place on the Cooley Mountains. The centre for all activities is The Lumpers, in Ballymakellet, Ravensdale. There are a good variety of walks but the one that will suit everyone is the family walk on the Sunday. 

The Wee Binnians Walking Festival

The Wee Binnians Walking Festival is on the second weekend in September each year. Based in Newry the weekend walking festival visits the Mourne Mountains, Slieve Gullion and the Cooley Mountains with graded walks 1, 2 & 3 catering for all hill walkers.

Walking Festivals less than an hour's drive from Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula

The Mourne International Walking Festival

The Mourne International Walking Festival, taking place on the last weekend in June, based in Warrenpoint with walks throughout the Mourne Mountains, Co Down, Northern Ireland. The mountains and the surrounding area offers some of the best walking in Ireland set within stunning scenery.


For your safety and comfort it is important that you are properly equipped when walking in mountainous areas. The weather is very changeable and when the mist comes down, it is very difficult to see your way so all walkers must be properly equipped.
Must Have:
Rucksack & Appropiate clothing (layers are the best option), Walking Boots, Hat & Gloves, Raincoat & Waterproof over-trousers/Leggings, lunch and at least 1 litre water.
Should Have: 
Torch (Head Torch is preferable), Bivvy Bag, Extra Batteries, Basic First Aid, Whistle. Map - OSI Discovery Series Sheet No. 36, Compass, Emergency Rations (Just have spare chocolate Bars).
Walkers Responsibilities:
For your own safety, take stock of your equipment and always inform someone of your walking route prior to setting out. Choose the walk most suitable to your fitness level. Observe the country code, 'Leave No Trace', take ALL litter home. 

Other Useful Links

The Ireland Walking Guide


The Walkers Association of Ireland (General information).


Mountaineering Ireland


Visit our Fáilte Ireland Approved Accommodation pages for accommodation in Carlingford, Omeath, Ballymascanlon, Carrickdale, Ravensdale and close by, there are lots of accommodation options to meet your requirements while walking on the Cooley Peninsula.
Hotels in Carlingford, Ballymascanlon, Carrickdale and Omeath.
Guest Houses and Bed & Breakfasts in Carlingford and nearby.
Carlingford Self Catering Accommodation, Carlingford Hostel accommodation and Caravan & Camping Park close to Carlingford
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Irelands Ancient East Carlingford Cooley Peninsula

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